A confident Rick Nash scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone, gliding through center ice with possession. As he hit the blue line, he dipped his shoulder, angling toward the Islanders crease with a defenseman planted firmly on his hip.
Nash descended in on Jaroslav Halak, and fired a shot on the backhand that made its way through Halak's equipment, and trickled in to give the Rangers a 1-0.
It was one of Halak's rare mistakes on the night, as the Rangers defense picked up where the new Islanders goalie left off, and continued to fumble through life without Dan Boyle.
Michael Kostka, the newest Blueshirt to get an audition on the the Rangers blue line, made too costly turnovers that shifted the tides, and the Islanders exploded for four goals in the third period to down the Rangers 6-3, as the Isles remained undefeated in their first three games.
Nash's goal, an unassisted tally, came just over six minutes into the first period to put the Rangers ahead 1-0. The Islanders would respond though after a Ryan McDonagh interference penalty, as offseason acquisition Johnny Boychuk continued his hot start, and knotted the score with his second goal of the season on the ensuing power play.
The teams would go into the intermission tied, and it was the Rangers who would strike first in the middle frame to retake the lead. After losing an offensive zone faceoff, Derick Brassard peeled out of the circle and met a clearing attempt up the boards. He worked the puck down low, and then drove to the net to find a feed from Chris Kreider that he popped over Halak's glove to put the Rangers ahead 2-1.
It looked as if the Rangers would take their one goal lead into the third, but with just under five to go in the second period, Kostka thew a blind pass from behind the goal that led to a turnover. With the Rangers scrambling to get back, Nikolai Kulemin found a wide-open John Tavares in the slot who pumped a one-timer past Henrik Lundqvist to send the game into the final 20 minutes tied at two.
But Kostka was just getting started.
Less than a minute into the third period, Kostka, on a nearly identical play, again tried to go through the middle of the ice from behind his own goal. This time, he gave the puck right to Kyle Okposo, who snapped a shot past Lundqvist to give the Islanders their first lead of the night at 3-2.
And then the Rangers unraveled.
In a stretch reminiscent of the home-opener Sunday night against the Maple Leafs, the Rangers would allow three goals in the first 5:20 of the third period to put the game out of reach. Brock Nelson would get in on the scoring action 4:02 after Okposo's tally, as a failed Rangers clearing attempt ended with Nelson finding space in the slot and beating Ludnqvist to make it a 4-2 advantage for the Isles.
In a play rather indicative of the Rangers start to the season, Mikhail Grabovski capped that three-goal stretch for the Islanders when his cross-ice pass on a 2-on-1 deflected off Kevin Klein, and into the net as Lundqvist was gliding to the other side of his crease.
Nick Leddy would score the Islanders final goal of the night to make it a 6-2 game, as after another failed clearing attempt, Leddy fired a shot to goal from the point with Cory Conacher screening Lundqvist in front.
With 2:10 to play, Nash scored his second of the night off a nice pass from Anthony Duclair, a tally of little consequence. Nash though has six goals in the Rangers first four games, while the point was Duclair's third assist, and third point on the season.
Through the first 20 minutes of the game, play was about even, if not titled in the Rangers' favor. Halak, however, stood tall for the Islanders, keeping them in the game before that third period outburst. The former St. Louis Blues netminder stopped 40 shots in all, including a number of chances in close on three unsuccessful Rangers power play.
Another visible skater for the Blueshirts was Kevin Hayes, who despite not registering a point, looked very confident on the puck and skating with Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello. Hayes came close to netting his first NHL goal when he drove in on goal in the third period, but dragged the puck just wide of the post.
The Rangers will be back in action this when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.